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Education Montana Politics

Hill’s View on Education is Deplorable

In Congressman Hill’s own words (Bitterroot Star on July 10, 2012),

We are second to last in quality of teachers.

While also saying in the same interview, that Montana students,

. . .are doing fairly well, performing in the top third to 15%.

I’ve done some fact checking.  The student performance statistic is from the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), administered every other year to a random and select number of students at 4th, 8th, and 12th grades, also known at the Nation’s Report Card, which shows significant increase in overall test scores from 1990 to 2011 and places us well ahead of the national average.  Click to read the report.  Now, the nefarious quote about having the second worst teachers in the nation on the face seems so far off base,  but the Congressman was making an off-the-cuff remark, which I concede may be a slightly off, but the second worst in the nation, with students who perform well above average on the national assessment?  Turns out, there is a statistic for that as well, but the Congressman is a little off.  According to a Thomas Fordham Foundation study, Montana ranks dead last, having the worst teachers in the nation; ranking them on these three items:

  1. States punish or reward teachers and administrators for student achievement,
  2. Conducts checks on teachers’ backgrounds and college course work, and
  3. How much power the state gives for individual schools to hire and fire teachers.

In esssance, this study ranks our teachers based upon how much local control our school districts have.  By golly, the study’s outcome needs to be flipped – Montana has the best teachers in the nation!  I am proud of that statistic.  As Montanans pride ourselves on our individuality, privacy, and as much local control as possible, so yes, we do have the best teachers and schools in the nation.  Read MSU Billings study here.  Our education system has a low input (poor pay with sub-par working conditions) with an extremely high output (incredible student scores) meaning our system of education is extremely efficient.  How could any politician or Montanan ask for anything else?  You want a faster horse?  — Our educators made one.  Mr. Hill doesn’t want that for our children or our future, he wants to shoot our highly efficient system cold, gut it, and feed its bloody entrails to the coyotes of private industry.  Not in Montana, sir.  We will not stand for our public dollars being poached to fund private industry.  If you want a private charter schools, fine, build it with private money and fill it with students whose parents want to pay for it, but don’t use our tax dollars.  We want what the Montana constitution allows:

    (1) It is the goal of the people to establish a system of education which will develop the full educational potential of each person. Equality of educational opportunity is guaranteed to each person of the state.
(2) The state recognizes the distinct and unique cultural heritage of the American Indians and is committed in its educational goals to the preservation of their cultural integrity.
(3) The legislature shall provide a basic system of free quality public elementary and secondary schools.

Private charter schools are not equal nor are they a quality public school for every student.  Our teachers are doing a great job, don’t make them the sacrificial lamb on the alter of privatization.  Your ideas are rotten for the students and future of Montana, Mr. Hill.


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I love Montana.


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